At least one member of the Sandwich Council On Aging’s board of trustees does not like the look of the new senior center.
The criticism, from board member Karen Carter, comes on the heels of a presentation made to the Sandwich Board of Selectmen last week by architect Joel Bargmann of Bargmann Hendrie+Archetype, the Boston-based architectural firm hired by the town in March to bring the senior center from concept to construction.
“I am disappointed in the plans from the architect,” Ms. Carter told the board during a Zoom meeting on Tuesday morning, July 28. “The building does not reflect our coastal regional character...[and] the front entrance is not welcoming.”
Ms. Carter said the recently built police and fire department buildings—located on the same public safety campus that will be home to the senior center—do not resemble each other or the proposed senior center.
Patricia Collins, chairman of the COA board, said she would present Ms. Carter’s concerns to Assistant Town Manager Heather B. Harper. Ms. Harper could then bring up the concerns to the architect at an upcoming meeting of the building committee.
Ms. Harper, reached by phone late Thursday, July 30, said she is open to comments from the COA board and the public.
“Now is the time for people to give feedback—while we are in the design phase,” she said.
Ms. Harper said she had heard directly from Ms. Carter last week but advised her first to bring it to the COA board, on which Ms. Carter has served since 2018.
The concerns will be brought up at the building committee on Monday, August 3, Ms. Harper said.
Dissatisfaction with the Center for Active Living’s design also surfaced at last week’s COA meeting. Ms. Collins and other members expressed concern that the administrative offices had been squeezed by an enlargement of an adjoining two-story gymnasium.
Ms. Collins said in a telephone interview she did not bring up those concerns at last week’s board of selectmen meeting because the architect was already working on a solution.
“The design was beautiful and gave us a lot of space for 2022, but we are trying to look ahead to 2025. The architect acknowledged our concern and came up with another 220 feet for us,” she said.
Ms. Collins said Ms. Carter’s criticisms—which included a complaint that the two-story gym is too big a structure for the area and resembles a barn—were unexpected.
Nevertheless, all comments from board members deserve to be aired, and they will be communicated to the building committee, Ms. Collins said.
Mr. Bargmann told selectmen last week the new senior center will be extremely energy-efficient, taking advantage of solar power and geothermal heating and cooling systems.
The major challenge of designing the Center for Active Living was creating a space that is both a senior center and a recreational building, the architect said.
“We spent a tremendous amount of time on the concept of successful shared spaces,” Mr. Bargmann said, referring not only to the gym/senior center space but also to the shared space within certain rooms.
The 2,000-square-foot multipurpose room, for example, can be easily reconfigured to be a lecture area, a dining space for 140 people or a movie theater, he said.
The large kitchen will have one window that opens into the multipurpose room and another that opens into the gym. The kitchen will have space for cooking classes as well as a grab-and-go food area and walk-in food storage closets.
The new first-floor plans also include an outdoor cafe, a medical wing and the 7,000-square-foot gym.
The second-floor plans show the activity rooms, fitness areas, a conference room, a games room and the second floor of the gymnasium that will accommodate a walking track.
An entry to the gym has been added so that members of the public can access the gym without having to trek through the halls of the senior center.
The center is expected to be completed and be ready for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the spring of 2022, the town’s project manager has said.
BH+A was chosen this spring from among five architectural firms that submitted bids for work on the Sandwich Center for Active Living, which will be located on the public safety complex at the intersection of Quaker Meetinghouse and Cotuit roads.
As envisioned by a previous architect, the proposed $16 million senior center would offer a little something for everyone. That concept and the general layout have remained the same.